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Junior doctors return to work as talks begin to avoid next walk-out

Doctors have ended their strike and returned to work amid new hope that a deal over changes to their contracts can be reached before the next planned 48-hour walkout.

Thousands of junior doctors walked out for 24 hours, while around 4,000 operations had to be cancelled.

Two further strikes are planned but talks are expected to resume in an effort to break the stalemate.

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Claims NHS boss encouraged to 'hard-edge' strike concerns

Last week, the Department of Health was accused of encouraging an NHS boss to harden the language of a letter to the British Medical Association raising concerns about Tuesday's strike by junior doctors.

Medical director of NHS England, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh's letter raised fears about whether striking junior doctors would be available to respond in the event of a Paris-style terrorist attack.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh wrote to the British Medical Association about his concerns.

According to the Independent, emails reveal the letter went through a number of revisions to ensure concerns about the possible impact of a major incident during the walkout were made as "hard-edged" as possible.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was also given approval of the text, emails between the Department of Health (DoH) and Mr Keogh reveal.

The Department of Health said it was "absolutely right" that ministers insisted on Sir Bruce giving his "independent" view on how the health service would be able to respond.

A spokesman also told the newspaper it was "completely right that the Department expressed a view on communication with the BMA”.

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